Comedian and musician Jack Black is best known as one half of the duo Tenacious D which has a new album coming soon. As a guest on the Good Mythical MORE vlog hosted by YouTubers Rhett And Link, Jack was asked to choose the most metal album cover of all time from a selection of Amon Amarth, Iron Maiden, Ronnie James Dio, Manowar, Molly Hatchet (?) and Wretched. Watch the video and see where he landed. Tenacious D’s new album, Post-Apocalypto, is coming this November 2nd, 2018,Continue reading
Whisper it softly around these parts so as not inflate the head of one of our sterling writers, Richie HR, but he is right. In his recent review of Annihilated’sXIII Steps To Ruination (Unique Leader) here he commented about how “Average is the new bad, and it’s far, far worse than rubbish ever was”, casting light on the fact that we are inundated with decent, OK, average, not bad, it’s alright metal (especially Death Metal) these days. Passing muster isn’t the same as it was, and if you were ranking on a Bell Curve (curb your tittering at the back), what would have passed for decent would now be at the bottom, as the overall level has come up.
There are also way more Death Metal bands per head of metal fan than any other genre, and far too many average, going nowhere bands. Labels used to be a filter for this sort of stuff, but it now seems even those labels that should know better have gotten into the conveyor belt mentality of it all (and Relapse really should know better, having gestated some of the cream of the DM crop). We have a sea of the unimaginatively named Wretched, Annihilated et al producing the unimaginative; the differences between them each are minimal, very few of them have any identity or any chance of releasing anything essential. Good Death Metal is great, and there still is good new Death Metal out there. Average Death Metal is mediocre and uninspiring.
So, it’ll probably come as no surprise to hear, Abysmal Dawn, Obsolescence (Relapse), sound a lot like a lot of other bands. It’s a bit technical, predominantly chuggy, Death Metal, with vocals more bark than growl. It’s inoffensive (which is another problem… ) and has good cover art. Their version of Dissection’s ‘Night’s Blood’ is several shades shitter than the original (aren’t they always). They aren’t as good as, let alone better than, the bands they were influenced by, which probably includes Malevolent Creation, Pestilence and The Black Dahlia Murder.
Other than that, it’s not shit. It’s not brilliant, either. It’s dictionary definition meat and potatoes meh Death Metal. And one thing Death Metal should never be is staid enough to be ‘meh’.
Confession time. I missed Wretched’s latest release, the charmingly entitled Cannibal (Victory) when it came out back in the summer. I’m not entirely sure how that happened but I should probably put it down to carelessness or middle aged lack of attention to detail on my part. Anyway, I have now rectified this and can report that all is well in the technical death metal world of Wretched. Very well indeed.
Cannibal is the fourth album from the North Carolina outfit and it is as breathless and brutal as you hope. In fact, it might just be the best album to date from a band that don’t seem to have gotten the credit that they are surely due.
Attempting to explain Wretched to the uninitiated isn’t the easiest of tasks. Sure, they cover the technical end of the death metal sub-genre with consummate ease but additionally they have always seemed to be eager to include additional ideas, tones and influences within their extreme musical language. On Cannibal, you can also hear plenty of metalcore, a soupcon of Behemoth and a bucketload of satanic sounding bile and venom. All well and good, then.
At one level, listening through a poor MP3 and terrible laptop speakers can, if you are not a convert to this sort of thing, sound like kicking a bag of kittens down a long, steep metal staircase (not that I have any experience of this but hopefully you can conjure the imagery.) You’d be wrong though.
For all its pulverizing bluster and pile-driving enthusiasm, Cannibal is not as frenzied or out of control as my description might suggest. There is self-evidently a remorselessness in what they do but you do get a sense that the band understand that allowing themselves to take a breath from time to time doesn’t detract from the intensity of the listening experience; more, there is a better sense of controlled aggression that is a sign of a band progressing and advancing their craft.
Given the sonic intensity of the whole record, picking out highlights seems somewhat pointless as it’s all pretty solid stuff from start to finish but in the interests of music journalism, there’s plenty of meat on ‘Cranial Infestation’ and there is nothing like any sort of let up in the power of the thrash inspired collective mugging of ‘Morsel’ but seriously, if you like this sort of thing, you’re going to really like this sort of thing. Wretched are tearing everyone a new one, as you’re supposed to say at this point.